War Crimes Tribunal Overdue for Bosnia - and the World

National Catholic Reporter, April 2, 1993 | Go to article overview

War Crimes Tribunal Overdue for Bosnia - and the World


The pain of Americans deepens everyday as the carnage of Bosnia's Muslims becomes more intense. The number of rapes, refugees and concentration camps escalates as the crusade for "ethnic cleansing" mounts to staggering, Nazi-like proportions.

In a poll taken March 5-9 by NBC and The Wall Street Journal, Americans were divided 51-41 against the idea of sending U.S. ground troops to Bosnia as part of a peacekeeping force. The White House is urging Bosnia's beleaguered Muslims to sign a peace accord, but those oppressed people understandably are resisting because there are no guarantees that the Serbs will respect a cease-fire even if they sign it.

Apparently, some form of U.N settlement will be forthcoming. But its enforcement is the question. How, for example, can Serbs be induced to return territory in Eastern Bosnia that they have taken at a terrible cost to Muslim life?

And what happens if the Serbs defy the no-fly zone over Bosnia? In addition, what could European nations and the United States do if the proposed 10 ethnically based provinces simply are not successful?

The uncertainty about every option in the war in the Balkans is an increasingly awful problem for the new government in the United States. How will history 20 years from now judge the inaction of the major European powers and the United States? Will historians be required to record that traditional Christian nations walked away when a Muslim-led nation in Europe was decimated by a traditionally Christian country?

What will the world say about the neutrality of the United States when the extent of the atrocities of the Serbs against Bosnia is revealed? Will the United States be as embarrassed as it was when the brutality of the U.S.-backed government in El Salvador was disclosed in a shocking U.N. report last month?

At least one creative and constructive development has occurred with respect to the carnage in the former Yugoslavia. On Feb. 18, for the first time since World War II, the U.N. Security Council voted to set up a court to prosecute people responsible for war crimes in the aftermath of the unraveling of former Yugoslavia that began in June 1991. …

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